My first love is between art and fútbol. Art is life. Vida es mi arte, I like to say. So it can be, at times, rough around the edges or it can be fine, depending on the moment. –Erick “Roho” Garcia
The wall located on 18th Place and Throop in the Pilsen neighborhood outside the beauty salon was bare for quite some time. The brown brick had room for a story, a vision and a message and Erick “Roho” Garcia wanted to bring it to life.
As soon as he had gained permission from the building owner to put up a mural, he designed it a couple of days later. Having done pieces like this one before, the design and composition of the wall piece fell into the style of a series he has been developing on a smaller scale. The series captures women’s faces over a graffiti-style, 3D lettering behind them. The most recognizable, thus far, is of Marilyn Monroe with the word “Amor” behind her.
This wall also has a woman’s face, but with the word “Sky” next to her, based on the title of the piece, “Sky’s the Limit.”
Residents will stop to find out who he is, who the face of the woman is and to express their gratitude of the additional art beautifying the community. “That alone, is payment,” Garcia says.
As a resident of Pilsen, you may have seen him working on the wall described above, lost in music, focused on the paint. However, painting isn’t his only method of self-expression. In fact, Garcia doesn’t even call himself a painter, but an artist—an artist of the senses, more like it.
If you know anything about Garcia, you know him as a creative being and as a lover of fútbol; he usually only says it in Spanish. As a young man, Garcia threw himself into the two entities he fell in love with which have followed him as he has grown into the artist that he is.
A native of Joliet, Ill., Garcia immersed himself in graffiti and Hip-Hop, break dancing, and hanging out with his crew– The Envious Crew. Come high school, Garcia’s punishment for getting caught spray painting by his father resulted in being sent to Providence Catholic High School; away from friends, away from his life. Nevertheless, it turned out to be a blessing. It was there that he was introduced to fine art, involved himself in playing the “beautiful game” of fútbol and dabbled in theater.
His outlets and inspiration then and now are vast in variation. Keen on the beauty of creation, Garcia’s combinations show him to be unique in his collaborative mediums. From spray painting to acting on stage, mixing music for friends to dancing, Garcia surrounds himself with ways to be expressive.
His pieces of work are vibrant and lively. Filled with a mixture of blues, greens and yellows, Garcia implements what he knows onto the canvas, paper or wall he has to work with. “I’m an artist who paints on walls,” he says.
The feeling is urban, the look is imaginative. In a forward movement of experimenting and creating, Garcia carries his foundation in graffiti and love of indigenous Mexican cultures with him. It’s inevitably in all pieces, mixed with detailed human figures and faces. This is his own form of art that he’s called it “Graffiti Fine Art.”
Staring at pieces and looking at the movement, details and colors, there are almost hidden eccentricities to be discovered if you let your imagination run away with it.
In the past few years, the 28-year-old has been recognized for his soccer pieces; his attempt of capturing players in motion, depicting the essence of the moment, whether versus an opponent or oneself.
“I feel at peace when I’m integrating both. I present all that fútbol is,” he explains. “I loved it so much and I will always love it. It’s a perfect mix for me.”
Graffiti based over an explosion of color, Garcia’s skills have helped him develop a knack for motion. Working on large-scale pieces, solely because he felt limited by smaller canvases, Garcia created five-foot-tall images of Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, Ronaldo “Ronaldinho” de Assis Moreira and Lionel Messi—some of the greatest in the game.
As a student at the American Academy of Art, Garcia took a chance on himself and his love for fútbol and tried out for the Chicago Storm, a team in the Ultimate Soccer League.
“I made the cut and it was during finals weeks at the academy and that was tricky,” he says. “My art took a little damage in terms of not spending enough time on it.”
Choosing between his love for art and his love for soccer may have resulted in a sign that he should stick to art. The Storm didn’t return to the league the following year.
During late nights, it’s common to find Garcia mixing music, painting or writing, gathering focus in a whirlwind of motivating stimulation. Lights on, a movie on the muted television, classical music playing in the kitchen and up-beat music playing in the living room is a consistent atmosphere for his creations.
Working on his own pieces, the After School Matters instructor also works on pieces for class, developing a curriculum and method of teaching best for either his high school or elementary school students.
For Garcia, being an artist is a lifestyle full of passion and life. Whether he is acting as DJ, painter, writer or futbolista, he surrounds himself with creative energy and art.
“An artist should experiment with all types of mediums. I always keep myself really busy,” he says. “I’m an artist. Art is life, that’s the simplest explanation I can give.”